2nd Friday of every month
at 38 Town House Rd

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The 1775 Center Schoolhouse

1776 Center Schoolhouse
Our Center Schoohouse headquarters was built in 1775, and served as Durham's principle education facility for nearly 150 years.

~ Illustration by Matt Means

According to Milton Whited, author of Durham's Heritage, The Centre School was built about 1775 on the northwest corner of the Green. The land, a small parcel of five rods square, was deeded by Ebenezer Robinson to Elihu Chauncey for any inhabitants to build a school. In 1780, Ebenezer Robinson bequeathed £100 for the school if it were kept eleven months of the year. Robinson also willed three acres to the Town for use as a cemetery. The profits from the cemetery were to be used to support the Centre School. In 1787, £39 of the original bequest were invested in Ohio lands. The lands were sold around 1835 and yielded a return of $892.00. The total bequest was now valued at $1,152.18 and yielded $69.13 in interest for the support of the school in that year. Annual contributions towards the support of the Centre School were made from this fund until 1923.

The building was used as a school until 1923, when students moved to the Central Consolidated school, now Frank Ward Strong School. At the end of the 1923 school year, there were 37 students enrolled in the grammar section and 34 in the primary section for a total of 71 students in the school. The building was sold to the Durham Fair Association in 1923 and was by the Durham District Nurse Association and it served the town as a rations office during World War II. The building was given back to the town in 1955 after a failed attempt by the fair to turn the building into a two family apartment. Instead of demolishing the building after finding the cost of the conversion too high, the Durham Fair Association voted to deed the school back to the town. In the 1960s, the historical society began to use the building, thanks to the efforts of Charles Stannard. He secured a lease with the town, which has been continued to the present time. The early membership was instrumental in beginning the restoration of the schoolhouse in the mid-1960s and those efforts continue today.